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Tennessee Titans Football

Titans Turn to Ground Game for TD

Posted by Craig Peters on December 22, 2013 – 2:19 pm

A short touchdown by Shonn Greene has brought the Titans within three points at 16-13 with 4:01 left in the third quarter.

After opening the possession with three straight throws, including a 15-yard completion from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Nate Washington on third-and-3, the Titans ran the ball eight straight plays.

Chris Johnson had runs of 4, 8 and 9 to move the ball to the Jacksonville 46-yard line. Tennessee then brought in Shonn Greene, who gained 3 before busting lose for a 29-yarder, the team’s longest run of the day. Greene took the next three carries for 2, 2 and the 1-yard score. Greene broke tackles by Paul Posluszny and Johnathan Cyprien.


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First Look: Titans vs. Cardinals

Posted by Craig Peters on December 10, 2013 – 5:35 pm

The Titans (5-8) host the Cardinals (8-5) at 3:25 p.m. (CT) on Dec. 15 at LP Field. Here’s a first glance at the matchup:

Recent action

Tennessee led Denver on the road last week by 11 points midway through the second quarter but lost 51-28 after committing two turnovers in the second half. The Titans scored three rushing touchdowns (two by Shonn Greene and one by Chris Johnson) and scored on a 41-yard touchdown pass by Ryan Fitzpatrick to Justin Hunter, who had his second 100-yard receiving game. The Broncos, however, railed with 10 points late in the second quarter and scored four touchdowns on their first five possessions of the second half, including twice after the turnovers gave them short fields. Arizona has won five of its past six after going 3-4 in its first seven games. Veteran Carson Palmer, who joined the Cardinals this season, has developed a chemistry with seven-time Pro Bowler Larry Fitzgerald (67 catches for 774 yards) and second-year pro Michael Floyd (56 catches for 886 yards).

Team stat comparisons

Titans rookie Justin Hunter has had two 100-yard receiving performances in the past three games.

Titans rookie Justin Hunter has had two 100-yard receiving performances in the past three games.

Tennessee’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 21st (328.7)
Rushing Yards/Game: 15th (115)
Passing Yards/Game: 23rd (213.7)
Turnover Ratio: Even (tied for 14th in NFL)

Arizona’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 5th (311.7)
Rushing Yards/Game: 3rd (84.5)
Passing Yards/Game: 11th (227.2)
Points Allowed/Game: 7th (19.8)

Tennessee’s Defensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 14th (343.8)
Rushing Yards/Game: 20th (117.1)
Passing Yards/Game: 10th (226.8)
Points Allowed/Game: 17th (24.5)

Arizona’s Offensive Rankings:
Yards/Game: 18th (337.9)
Rushing Yards/Game: 25th (90.2)
Passing Yards/Game: 14th (247.7)
Turnover Ratio: Even (tied for 14th in NFL)

Series history

The Titans/Oilers and Cardinals franchises have only met nine previous times, which is the fewest number of encounters against any team that was part of the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. Arizona leads 5-4, with Tennessee claiming the most recent matchup 20-17 on Nov. 29, 2009. The Cardinals’ organization was founded in 1898 and is the oldest continuously existing professional football franchise in America, having operated as the Morgan Athletic Club, the Normals, Racine Cardinals, Chicago Cardinals, St. Louis Cardinals, Phoenix Cardinals and Arizona Cardinals.

The previous meeting

Kenny Britt caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Vince Young as time expired to convert a fourth-and-goal and cap a 99-yard drive with a 20-17 Titans victory. The possession began at the Tennessee 1-yard line with 2:37 remaining and was extended by two other fourth-down conversions (catches of 10 yards by Britt and 13 yards by Lavelle Hawkins) and a third-down conversion. Young was 9-of-16 passing for 94 yards on the drive.

A quiet first half that had two field goals (52 and 24 yards) by Rob Bironas and a 41-yarder by Arizona’s Neil Rackers, Chris Johnson busted loose for an 85-yard touchdown in the third quarter, but the Cardinals answered the score with a 98-yard return by LaRod Stephens-Howling on the ensuing kickoff to cut the Titans’ lead to 13-10. The Cardinals claimed their first lead early in the fourth quarter, but were unable to stop the late rally, despite forcing a turnover with less than five minutes left and then getting a 64-yard punt by Ben Graham.

Outlook

Tennessee is aiming to win its final three games of the season to finish 8-8. The Titans are still mathematically alive in the playoff standings but are two games behind Baltimore and Miami (both 7-6) and one game behind San Diego and the New York Jets (both 6-7) for the final Wild Card spot in the AFC.

The Titans are hoping to have Delanie Walker back from a concussion suffered on Dec. 1 this week, and the Cardinals will be compensating for the loss of talented rookie Tyrann Matthieu to a knee injury.

Tennessee is returning to LP Field for the first time in more than a month after going 1-2 in three straight road games. The Titans are 2-4 at home, and the Cardinals are 2-4 on the road this season. Arizona is 8-1 this season when it scores 22 or more points. Tennessee has held opponents to 22 or fewer points seven times this season and is 5-2 in those games.


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Titans’ Gamble Leads to Shonn Greene’s 2nd TD

Posted by Craig Peters on December 8, 2013 – 5:00 pm

Tennessee took a chance and reaped a substantial reward midway through the second quarter.

Facing a fourth-and-1 from the Tennessee 49-yard line, Titans QB Ryan Fitzpatrick faked a handoff to Chris Johnson, rolled to his right and threw a short pass to Johnson, who had enough running room to gain 23 yards.

Shonn Greene busted through the line on the following play for a 28-yard touchdown. It was his longest run as a Titan and gave Tennessee a 21-10 lead with 6:58 remaining in the first half.

Denver answered with a 10-play, 81-yard drive that was capped by an 8-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Julius Thomas to trail 21-20 with 1:50 left. The Broncos forced a Titans punt on the ensuing possession and got the ball back with 52 seconds remaining at their own 15-yard line.

Denver moved it to the Tennessee 46 with three seconds remaining, which was just close enough for Matt Prater to attempt and make an NFL record 64-yard field goal as time expired.

Tennessee leads Denver 21-20 at half, and Denver will get the ball to start the second half.


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Titans Start Hot Despite Freezing Temperature

Posted by Craig Peters on December 8, 2013 – 4:15 pm

Despite a game-time temperature of 18 degrees Fahrenheit in Denver, the Titans opened with a hot start against the Broncos.

Eight minutes into the game, Tennessee led 14-7 after short touchdowns by Shonn Greene and Chris Johnson that were set up, respectively, by a 57-yard reception by Justin Hunter and a 95-yard kickoff return by Leon Washington.

A power run by Greene gave Tennessee a 7-0 lead with 12:37 left in the first quarter. Greene kept his legs churning after initial contact and knifed into the end zone.

The plunge ended a scoring drive that was five plays and covered 73 yards in 2:23. The catch by Hunter was a career-long 57 for the rookie. Ryan Fitzpatrick also hit Hunter one play earliers to convert a third-and-5 with a 10-yard gain.

The Broncos tied the game at 7 with a 13-play, 74-yard drive that ended with a 1-yard pass from Peyton Manning to Wes Welker.

Washington, however, helped the Titans answer immediately by fielding the ensuing kickoff at the 2, streaking through a substantial hole in the middle of the coverage and picking up a block by Jackie Battle. Washington was finally corralled at the Denver 3, but Johnson scored one play later.

The Broncos added a 25-yard field goal by Matt Prater with 25 seconds left in the first quarter after two plays that were initially ruled touchdowns were ruled a completion shy of the end zone and an incompletion during reviews by officials.


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Zach Brown’s INT Helps Titans Take Lead

Posted by Craig Peters on November 24, 2013 – 4:21 pm

Zach Brown’s first interception of 2013 helped the Titans take a 6-3 lead against the Raiders with 11:55 left in the first half.

Brown picked off Oakland rookie Matt McGloin at the Raiders’ 14-yard line and returned it three yards.

Tennessee went with consecutive carries to Shonn Greene for gains of 5 and 1 to set up third-and-4, but a pass attempt from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Delanie Walker was broken up by linebacker Kevin Burnett.

Rob Bironas split the uprights with a 22-yard field goal.

The interception was the fourth of Brown’s two-year career.


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First Look: Titans vs. Jaguars

Posted by Craig Peters on November 5, 2013 – 9:30 am

The Titans (4-4) host the Jaguars (0-8) on Nov. 10 at LP Field. Here’s a first glance at the matchup:

Recent action

Tennessee defeated the Rams in St. Louis 28-21 on Nov. 3 to end a three-game losing streak. Jacksonville is coming off its bye week after a 42-10 loss to San Francisco in London at the second and final International Series game of 2013.

Team stat comparisons

Chris Johnson rushed 23 times for a season-best 150 yards and two TDs against St. Louis.

Chris Johnson rushed 23 times for a season-best 150 yards and two TDs against St. Louis.

Tennessee’s Offensive Rankings: Yards/Game 24th (318.0); Rushing Yards/Game 14th (114.8); Passing Yards/Game 24th (203.3), Turnover Ratio Plus-6 (tied for 7th in NFL)

Jacksonville’s Defensive Rankings: Yards/Game 27th (392.3); Rushing Yards/Game 32nd (161.8); Passing Yards/Game 12th (230.5), Points Allowed/Game: 32nd (33.0)

Tennessee’s Defensive Rankings: Yards/Game 12th (340.3); Rushing Yards/Game 27th (122.5); Passing Yards/Game 7th (217.8), Points Allowed/Game: 9th (20.9)

Jacksonville’s Offensive Rankings: Yards/Game 32nd (286.5); Rushing Yards/Game 66.4 (31st); Passing Yards/Game 19th (220.1), Turnover Ratio Minus-7 (tied for 26th)

Series history

The Titans lead 21-16 in 37 all-time meetings that include Tennessee’s 33-14 win in the 1999 AFC Championship to go to Super Bowl XXXIV, but the teams have split each of the past four seasons.

The previous meeting

Tennessee defeated Jacksonville 38-20 in the 2012 season finale by scoring four consecutive return touchdowns without its offense touching the ball. Zach Brown returned an interception 79 yards for a score to start the spree and ended it with a 30-yard return for a TD in the third quarter. In between, former Titans return specialist scored on punt returns of 69 and 81 yards.

Outlook

The Titans were pleased to rush last week for a season-high 198 yards on 35 carries, including 150 yards and two touchdowns by Chris Johnson, who is a FedEx Ground Player of the Week Nominee for Week 9 (vote here). Tennessee wants to keep building its rushing stats and believes Shonn Greene, who had nine carries, 38 yards, one TD and one catch for 28 yards, in his most action this season will help with that. Greene appears to have recovered from the knee injury he suffered in the season-opener.

Tennessee’s has held five of eight opponents to 21 points or less this season. Alterraun Verner has four interceptions, and Jurrell Casey has a team-best six sacks.

Jacksonville is in transition under first-year head coach Gus Bradley, who spent the past four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator. The Jaguars still have Maurice Jones-Drew at running back, but recently suspended 2012 first-round pick WR Justin Blackmon. Chad Henne, who started both games against Tennessee last season, has started five of the eight games this season, and 2011 first-round pick Blaine Gabbert has started three games.

Former Titans Sen’Derrick Marks and Jason Babin each have two sacks to lead the Jaguars.


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Titans Play Power Football for First TD

Posted by Craig Peters on September 8, 2013 – 1:59 pm

Jackie Battle powers through the line for Tennessee's first TD of 2013.

Jackie Battle powers through the line for Tennessee’s first TD of 2013.

The Titans used power football to score their first touchdown of 2013.

Tennessee got the ball at the Pittsburgh 49-yard line after an impressive diving interception by Alterraun Verner, and opted to pound the football with 11 rushes on its 12-play drive.

Chris Johnson started the possession with a 4-yard gain, and Shonn Greene followed with rushes of 5, 5 and 3 before heading to the sidelines.

Jackie Battle, who signed with the Titans just before training camp opened, gained one on third-and-2, then a critical yard on fourth-and-1 from the Steelers’ 26. Battle was initially hit twice behind the line of scrimmage on the play but kept his legs moving and got a little extra push from rookie guard Chance Warmack.

Johnson was stopped for no gain on the following play, prompting a pass from Jake Locker to tight end Delanie Walker that gained 8, and Johnson followed with a 3-yard gain to the 14-yard line on third-and-2 just before the two-minute warning.

Johnson gained 6 and 5 more on consecutive plays, before Battle powered up the middle for the 3-yard TD to give Tennessee a 7-2 halftime lead.

The drive consumed 6:48 and built off successful run-heavy drives the Titans executed during the preseason.


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Titans Raise Preseason Offensive Production

Posted by Craig Peters on August 31, 2013 – 1:01 pm

The week of roster reductions is always difficult as teams transition from the preseason to the regular season, but here are three statistical comparisons between this preseason and 2012 that the Titans should find encouraging. The numbers essentially evaporate with no bearing on regular season results, but illustrate desired trends that the Titans would like to continue beginning Sept. 8 in the season opener at Pittsburgh.

Team Quarterback Rating: 2012 — 69.2 | 2013 — 104.6 | Difference: +35.4

Jake Locker improved his passer rating this preseason over last year's by 22.4 points.

Jake Locker improved his passer rating this preseason over last year’s by 22.4 points.

Diagnosis: Titans quarterbacks have completed 80 of 120 passes (66.7 percent) for 912 yards and thrown eight touchdowns against two interceptions, delivering double-digit increases in passes completed and completion percentage and accounting for 280 more net passing yards, five more touchdowns and one less interception.

The substantial gain in passer rating stems largely from the increase in the number of passing touchdowns thrown by Titans QBs this preseason. Jake Locker attempted 11 fewer passes and completed two more, driving his completion percentage from 51.7 to 67.3 percent and improved his QB rating from 71.3 to 93.7 this preseason with the benefit of a full offseason as Tennessee’s starter.

Outlook: A considerable effort was made this offseason to capitalize on Locker’s strengths, as well as take advantage of high-percentage underneath routes to tight ends and running backs. Tennessee believes there’s hidden yardage there that it left on the table in 2012.

Time of Possession: 2012 — 27:45 | 2013—31:33 | Difference: +3:48

Diagnosis: Some have said this is the most important statistical category in which the Titans can improve this season not only to help the offense but also the defense. Tennessee wants to be a more physical team that is capable of running the ball when it needs and wants to do so, then take advantage of play-action passes that create larger throwing windows.

Outlook: The Titans added veteran running backs Shonn Greene during free agency and Jackie Battle before training camp to add different styles of backs to complement Chris Johnson’s speed and big-play threats. Johnson’s ability to make long runs and score on them is quite rare, but such explosiveness can reduce time with the football.

In 2012, three of 51 Titans possessions (6.9 percent) in the preseason lasted 10 or more plays, but this preseason Tennessee had 11 of 41 possessions (26.8 percent) go 10 plays or more. Continuing to do so in the regular season will improve offensive rhythm and allow the defense to stay fresh to maximize its performance.

Third-down percentage: 2012 — 14-for-52 (26.9 percent) | 2013 — 27-for-58 (46.6 percent) | Difference: +19.7 percent

Diagnosis: Success on third down increases time of possession, so it’s not surprising to see such strong improvements overlap. The gains can be attributed to better results on first and second downs to avoid obvious passing situations created by third-and-longs. Reducing the distance needed to convert a pass on third down is also likely to help quarterback completion percentage and passer rating.

Outlook: Continuing to move the chains on early downs opens the playbook for offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, and having third-and-short distances keeps faking the ball to running backs before throwing it a possibility. Tennessee also emphasizes the important role that running backs play in picking up the blitz, and Johnson, Greene and Battle have shown a willingness and ability to do that. Converting third downs early can be particularly helpful on the road because it reduces the fire in opposing fans and builds rhythm and confidence in offensive players while letting defensive players stay fresh.


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Shonn Greene: “I Know What’s Needed to Get First Downs”

Posted by Gary Glenn on March 19, 2013 – 4:39 pm

Shonn GreeneShonn Greene knows how to pick up tough yards — that’s one of the reasons the Titans targeted him in free agency.

But the former New York Jets running back won’t be limited to just short-yardage carries.

“We haven’t really gotten into percentages or anything like that, but one thing they did tell me was they don’t look at me having just one role,” Greene told the Midday 180 on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone. “They are going to be giving me carries here and there. They haven’t told me any number or anything like that, but I think it’s going to be more of a feel thing. I’m not going to be limited to just goal line or short yardage.”

Head coach Mike Munchak confirmed Greene’s comments in an interview with Fox Sports.com’s Alex Marvez at the NFL owners meeting.

“I know as a (former) line coach myself that we haven’t had a guy like that in a while,” Munchak said. “He reminds me of the Eddie George days — a guy that can fall forward, a guy that’s physical, a guy that can understand his role.

“We’re not going to have him as a short-yardage back, a goal-line back and four-minute back and that’s all he does. We feel he can play all three downs. He may get a series where he gets going and we’re taking over the line of scrimmage and you want that runner in there and we leave him in there.”

And when the Titans do need the first down, Greene has proven over time he can get the job done.

“As long as I was there (in New York) — even my rookie year — coming into games I’ve kind of been the short-yardage back and goal line type of back,” he said. “I think I just have a niche for that type of thing. I know what’s needed to get first downs and what’s needed to keep the chains moving.”

Munchak said Greene gives the Titans “a lot” more options.

“We haven’t stayed healthy in that (backup) spot the past two years so we’ve been very nervous. Luckily, C.J. has been very durable and hasn’t missed a game since he’s been in the league. We knew our luck was kind of running out on that idea so we had better get someone in.

“We feel that, especially with a young quarterback, we have to start moving the chains better and getting time of possession better. It’s hard to do when you just have a speed back. We thought the complement would be a huge plus for us.”

Greene understands his role and called Chris Johnson a great football player that is very explosive.

“He can be gone with any carry, so I don’t think it’s a matter of carries,” Greene said. “He’s very talented and it’s still a possibility he can reach his goals. I’m just here to help win football games.”


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